We must turn our minds to the garden now, to rude bulbs and strewn seeds, the steaming compost and the friendly worms. Gardening is good for you. It is relaxing and, although it is hard on my knees, it doesn't get me as dirty as what I usually do on them.
In the spring I will have watersong on the kitchen roof, and I'll climb up to stroke the silver fur of its succulent leaves, to squint at the thousand tiny flowers that only open when it rains and to distil their cold perfume. Watersong is good for calming down men. I'll have to steal muck from the churchyard to grow my pastors' blight. It's a scrappy perennial with lewd pink blooms that exude an adhesive sap and it must be regularly treated to keep at bay the smutty fungus maidenstongue that sneaks in and stains the skin and spreads like billy-o.
Croneswort is a darling of mine, a beautiful plant despite its ugly name. Its elaborate lilac and cream blossoms smell of chocolate and hash and its miniscule leaves are the shape of perfect hearts. I grow it in hanging baskets in the music room, and it seems to like Bartok the best. My favourite plant of all, though, grows twisted around the roots of the rookwood tree and I have to crawl beneath the swooning boughs to fill my punnet with plump paeanberries, the only fruit that grows fermented on the vine.
And the rest: the bright sprays of gentrian and medicinal germolina, the beds alive with succourling, pianist's fingers, castor root and hex, gay pots trailing tallowfax entwined with fronds of festris, the herbacious borders with their serried ranks of bless-me-not and how-soon, the looming blackwatch with their crowns of owls and in the corners, where it's dark, the feculent mounds of meat alice.
I will grow it all in soil enriched with my personal leakings, and then, in the autumn, I will watch it all die.